The year 2012 was filled with countless SEO changes. Many welcomed it; but it seems even more dreaded it. So what changed in 2012 that you should be aware of?
Penguin & Panda
If you do a Google image search for Google Panda or Google Penguin you get a pretty clear sentiment for how our industry viewed these updates. I dont care what the posts these images are used with say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In short, these updates made business owners (and SEOs) pay a lot more attention to on-site and off-site optimization efforts.
Panda was focused at the content level, Penguin at the link level. Both screamed give us quality and imo stay away from patterns. From then until now, some Website owners have started to recover while others are still reeling from the hit. But one this is for certain, its time to stop reading about the updates and start making serious changes to your SEO model (and business model in some cases).
The fact that you need inbounds links has not changed. You just need to quit reading about it and start doing it. I used to do a lot of reading about link building, and still do when the information is right. But the most I ever learned about link building was when I actually did it; although it didnt always seem like thats what I was doing. Heres some examples of links Ive gotten for myself and others:
Turn guest post opportunities into long-term relationships
When I first got into SEO, I did a bit of writing on my own sites (which are pretty bare now) but wanted to get my name out there. When I went in for job interviews those sites would show up when potential employees would search for my name. When Ann Smarty was the editor for the Search Engine Journal (SEJ), I shot her a quick email with a brief introduction and potential idea.
Ann read and responded pretty quickly with a rejection of my original idea, but along with an idea for another post. So I ran with it, and other than a grievous grammatical error it was a big hit (to me at least because the community was very welcoming). Since then I have written a few more posts and have gotten free reign to write when I can. This also led to me getting chances to write for a few other publications since I did a nice job at SEJ. While Ann isnt there anymore, I made it my mission to stay in the good graces with those in charge.
For client work this means not only searching for guest posting opportunities, but looking for long term columns to setup shop and create a reputation for said client in their industry. If your client is involved at any level in their realm, chances are they know of some sources or some influencers you can reach out to today. If they know of a publication, great. If they know someone at the publication and have a relationship with them, even better.
The point is to learn as much about your clients industry as you can. Learn where they go to get their industry specific news, if there is an industry specific niche resource. If not, they surely have other resources they go to frequently or bloggers they follow. Thats where you need to get plugged in with while looking for ways to get your foot in the door.
Do some favors for influencers
Its no secret influencers have, well…influence. If you know them well enough and they know you, they can either make or break you (if you really tick them off). So when I saw someone I really respect in this industry (Sebastian, that fun loving crustacean) begin a <rant> I couldnt help but capture it all and post my first ever story on Storify. When he had finished, I published it and then tweeted it. To my amazement he wrote a quick blog post and inserted what I had created. At the very least I thought Id get a few dozen tweets out of it once he had RT’d it. Instead I got the RT, a blog post mention AND a link to my site. Jackpot!
It took me around 10 minutes to put that Storify post together, mostly because it was new to me. So about 10 minutes worth of work turned out to be a score of a pretty decent link. A few takeaways:
- I was looking for some RTs and to get a chuckle from Sebastian that someone had take time to put his <rant> into Storify for easy reading.I shared the same passion he showed in the rant, which meant I wasnt thinking Gah, I dont want to waste my time making this.
- I knew more than just Sebastian would get a kick out of it. We know a lot of the same people in this industry and the sheer fact I took something Sebastian ranted about and made it easier to read with a thread of his tweets meant others would share it as well.
- When he wrote the post and I DMd him about linking to my site he knew I was just looking for some extra credit. I wasnt sitting outside his house with a sign begging to get noticed.
- If its something youre passionate about, or something your client has really got you psyched about, creating the content and putting in some good effort should come easy to you.
- I MADE A RESOURCE FOR OTHERS TO CHECK OUT
Pick up the phone and call someone!
When I worked for a non-profit in Kansas City I remember making a ton of phone calls to get our press releases syndicated and to ask churches to post our clinic hours. What resulted from all of this phone tag was a nice amount of targeted links.
This goes along with the rest of the list here, but picking up a phone and talking to someone about getting some visibility on their site takes effort. This, like the suggestion below, takes knowing what the client is going to be marketing for the rest of the year. You need to figure out who to call, when to call and what to call about. The last thing you want to do is sound like a cold calling telemarketer reading from a script. Learn as much as you can and be prepared.
Promote the business year round
When with a previous employer, we focused all infographics and blog posts to revolve around the same marketing schedule as the Director of Marketing. This allowed us to benefit from any offline marketing he did such as radio and television. When users would arrive directly to the site we had a fresh infographic or blog post waiting for them to read and share.
If youve already got the marketing schedule for the next year from your client (or next quarter) then youve got enough information for blog posts, press releases, social media AND phone calls. So you then need to plan your link strategy around their marketing schedule. Why you ask? So your efforts dont go to waste and so you can get additional help from the client by simply working in unison with them on it. Ill admit it sounds a lot easier than it is; but the additional benefit you get from it is well worth the effort you put into it.
Its not enough to build links, you need to build links to the links you built (linkception)
Ok, so you got links from some good sources; but dont stop there. If you really got some good links, you still need to build links to them. If theres anything to learn from the shady side of link building is that stopping at just one level of linking isnt good enough. A good resource gets linked to and promoted from other sources. This isnt to say you should do this for every single link you get. For example, I cant think of one single good reason to build links to a directory link, but I can think of a few reasons as to why Id build some links to a guest post a client has gotten.
What do all these have in common you ask? (Or dont, I asked it for you.) They all took work. Im not going to type out that automation doesnt work because there are some ways to automate some parts of it to help speed things along. But automating too much weakens quality.
So there have been some examples of link building here and there throughout this post. Itd be great if you were able to go out and get links by using these tactics or other some other means. But the takeaway here is that no matter what route you take to get links to your own site or promote a client, you have to have some passion for the business you are building the links for in addition to be willing to putting in the effort to create the content and make sure it gets placed in the right hands or in front of the right set of eyes, at the right time.
If you need help with your link building efforts, give us a shout anytime: